RoboCats gear up for new season

The school’s internationally ranked robotics team is widely recognized for its exciting and complex creations. During the Oct. 17 assembly, team captains Emily Chu, Benjamin Hauser, Erika Schumacher, Joshua Wang, and Sam Crane introduced the WiredCats’ behind-the-scenes learning and making processes. The assembly was stimulating and appealed to many students, especially the freshmen class.

“I think that the assembly went really well,” said freshman team member Ben Barber.  “It has the potential to get a lot more people interested and excited for robotics.”

The goal of the assembly was not only to help students gain a deeper understanding of robotics but also to bring attention to the team, since robotics is only a seven-year-old program at Westminster. Through this assembly, the captains really strove to connect with the student body and receive more exposure for their team.

“We want people to know more about what we do, especially now that we’re working at an international level,” said Crane. “We want them to be excited about that, somewhat like people get excited about football games.”

Every spring, the school’s robotics team competes in the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, Robotics Competition, a global high school competition. Earlier in the year, from January to February, the team members have six weeks to design and build a 120-pound robot, like the ones shown at the assembly. The team has to create a robot to do an action based on a certain theme. In the past years, a few such actions included playing soccer and basketball. In the six weeks before the worldwide FIRST competition, the team travels all over the country to compete in several smaller ones. Aside from these events, it also does outside work to get kids interested in science, technology, and community service by helping other teams with the business and marketing side of robotics.

Last year, FIRST’s theme was called the “Ultimate Ascent,” which was based on game of Ultimate Frisbee. Working for about six hours after school every day, the WiredCats designed, coded, programmed, and fabricated a unique robot. This robot was a huge success and helped them earn their high reputation. In one of the international competition’s rounds, Westminster came in first out of 1500 teams.

“You’re put in an extremely stressful environment, but it’s a great experience,” said Chu. “It brings us closer, and my teammates and I wouldn’t rather be in any other place.”

This year, the WiredCats are concentrating on teaching more new skills and techniques to the new members of the team. Prior involvement and knowledge is not needed to join or guarantee success. Anyone interested in participating can find more information on their website:

“Doing the actual creating is really fun yet challenging, but robotics is also exciting because you get to connect with other people, whether that be within the team or others through competitions,” said Schumacher. “There’s also the aspect where you go out into the community to meet new people, by helping out other teams or just in general. It really is a great experience.”